Social Networks Presence Is Good, But Owning Your Platform Is Better

Every writer now has the opportunity to gain an audience far beyond her family, friends, and coworkers. As a writer, you have the potential to have your work read all over the world. You can expand your reach. Social media has made that possible. A writer no longer has to hope for the gods of New York publishing or fancy magazines to smile down on her. She can churn out her best stuff directly to readers using her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Ning, and a host of other social networks.

Many writers are turning to social networks as a way to grow their brands and reach. But they are making one mistake. They are investing tremendous amounts of time in driving people to their social networks of choice — Twitter, Facebook, etc., but they don’t own anything. They need to make sure they have a primary spot that they own — their own Website or blog, their own mailing list. You must own the primary location in your platform.

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7 Secrets to Getting More Writing Assignments and Clients

Finding writing assignments can be tough.

Many writers go through periods where they have one or several projects, but then look up and have none. They’d love to string those periods together a bit more.

And they can.

I’ve been a professional writer all of my career. I worked at newspapers for several years before leaving to pursue my own writing business — self-publishing my own books, landing a book deal, taking on writing projects from clients. I found myself going from the fast-paced newspaper world where assignments were dumped in my lap, to a work life where I had to find the assignments and projects.

I often found myself casting about in frustration wondering just how I was supposed to land work. I realized nobody was going to knock on my door and offer me money. So I had to go out and look for it. Now, I am never without a writing project. That doesn’t mean it’s all easy for me. I still have to manage workflow and cash flow, as well as the projects themselves. Not to mention, keep the projects coming in.

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3 Things Writers Can Learn From Neil Armstrong

As Neil Armstrong shot toward the moon, he carried with him the hopes and aspirations of an entire nation — actually, the world. And in the years since that moon walk, he continued to serve mankind. News that he died today from complications due to heart surgery left me reflecting on his life. As I thought about the legacy of the first man to ever walk on the moon, I realized writers could learn a lot from his courage, career, and caring.

Neil Armstrong’s courage inspires any writer who dares to do something different

Armstrong took a body of knowledge and applied it to going to the unknown. That unknown was space and specifically, the surface of the moon. When he set foot on the moon July 20, 1969, the culmination of years of training and preparation resulted in a legacy that extends far beyond him. His utterance of “That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind,”  has been heard around the world and speaks to the willingness to be the first.

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Author Patricia Neely-Dorsey Has Become An Advocate for Her State

Patricia Neely-Dorsey has used her books of poetry as a way to portray her home state of Mississippi in a positive light. While many books of poetry fail to gain an audience, Neely-Dorsey has leveraged her work into speaking engagements, workshops, and events where she is an advocate for her state.

WL: I read in one interview that you said the inspiration for the first poem that got this book going actually came to you one morning. Did the other poems come as easily? Please talk about your journey to publication.

Neely-Dorsey: The whole journey with the poems/books(s), up until now, has actually been quite unbelievable, even to me.

On Valentine’s Day  2007, I woke up out of my sleep with this poem just swirling around in my head. I really wasn’t sure, at first,  if it  was — possibly — a song I had been listening to before I went to bed  or if it might be lines from a poem or other material that I had been reading. I quickly realized that it was an original poem!  I immediately got up and scribbled it down. The rest, as they say, is history!

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How to Land Freelance Writing Work With An Ad Agency or Marketing Company

Ad agencies can be good sources of steady work for freelance writers who meet deadlines, do nice work, and are not a headache. Freelance writing jobs abound these days, as even in an economic downturn, people still need to sell their products and services. And because they still need to sell, that means they need marketing and advertising content. Ad agencies, marketing companies, hospitals, and local governmental bodies need help with brochures, newsletters, websites, and other marketing collateral. (When you work on these types of projects, you are a copywriter. So use that language instead of just saying you are a freelance writer; say you are a freelance copywriter.) Many times, these agencies need to look outside their regular staffs to get the work done.

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6 More Common Mistakes Freelancers Make — and How to Avoid Them

This is the second of a two-part series on common mistakes freelancers make. If you missed it, check out the first installment here.

Whether you’re just starting out as a freelance writer or you’ve been at it a while, mistakes can happen. In fact, common freelancer mistakes can actually sink your writing business. But that doesn’t have to happen to you. Learn what these mistakes look like and how to avoid them.

Six common freelancer mistakes and what to do about them

1. Never asking for the sale. Many freelancers leave it up to the potential client to move the conversation forward. They wait around for the potential client to get back to them, and when the prospect doesn’t, they forget about the quote and move on to looking for business elsewhere, figuring the person just wasn’t interested.

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6 Common Mistakes Freelancers Make — and How to Avoid Them

This is the first of a two-part series on common mistakes freelancers make. Check out the second installment here.

Being a freelance writer is a beautiful thing. You get to write often, learn new things, work in your floppy T-shirt. You don’t have a boss staring you down for walking into the office two minutes after start time. And you get to take off in the middle of the day to do something totally fun.

The perks of the freelancing life can be diminished though, if you make mistakes that undermine your ability to earn good money, reduce your ability to manage your schedule, and prevent you from taking your business to the next level.

Avoid these business mistakes freelancers make

1. Not realizing it is a business. Many freelancers think all they need to do is tell others they are writers and that’s it. But while you may be a writer, what you are doing is running a writing business — even if the only person in that business is you. So that means setting up some type of business entity. You can set up a sole proprietorship, which is the cheapest and easiest way to go. Or you can get a little more sophistication and go for an LLC. Or incorporate. I’m not an accountant or an attorney, so I can’t tell you which entity is best for you. I started out in 2002 with a sole proprietorship, then changed to another entity years later as my business grew.

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How to Use Craigslist to Get Writing Projects — Without Getting Stuck With A Low Rate

Craigslist is almost the last place you want to look for writing gigs. That is, unless you do it right.

Most writers who try to use Craigslist to get business do so by scouring and responding to posts from people looking to hire freelancers. That’s most often an exercise in futility. You’d get more value for your time by watching that reality show you’re embarrassed to admit you actually like.

That’s because most people who are placing ads for writers on Craigslist are interested in only one thing: How cheaply can you do it? And since they will likely get hundreds of responses to their ads, they sift through and find that low rate. They find the writer willing to do the work for something like a burger and a Coke. So when you are responding to a writing ad on Craigslist, it forces you to lower your rate just to compete. But not just lower your rate, you’d likely have to offer to do the work for such a low rate you’d feel like it was slave labor if you actually landed the project. And that’s certainly not why you started freelancing.

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7 Lessons Writers Can Learn From the Olympics

The London Olympics are in the books, but a few memories will be etched in our minds for a lifetime. And with those memories come lessons. I loved watching the Olympics and while I definitely enjoyed some gold-medal moments, some other moments that didn’t even result in medals were among favorites as well.

For most Olympians, the journey there is long, arduous, and marked by sacrifice, hard work, and pain. We’ve now all read stories about Olympians whose families are in bankruptcy, like Gabby Douglas’s mom or are in foreclosure like Ryan Lochte’s parents. We’ve seen stories of parents who sent their children off to live with others for years, all in hopes that the sacrifice would result in Olympic glory. We’ve read that Dawn Harper worked three jobs to support herself while training and even raced to gold in the Beijing Olympics in borrowed shoes.

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5 Things You Need to Know If You Want a Book Deal

Most writers would love to get a book deal. They want someone else to pay them for their beautiful words, send them on a major tour, and cater to their every writerly whim.

If only.

The reality is that you need to know a few things if you are in search of a book deal. The first thing you need to know about getting a book deal is that book deals are disappearing.  Publishing houses are getting hit hard by changes in the industry, and they are offering fewer deals to unknown writers.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try for a book deal, if that’s what’s in your heart. A book deal can be a great opportunity to get your work out to an audience, without having to do all the work yourself. It can also provide an ego boost, if you’re into that soft of thing. And it can provide access to markets you may have thought were closed to you. So a book deal can be pretty cool. But it’s not essential. I have experience both with self-publishing and traditional publishing, as I self-published my first two books before landing two book  deals in pretty close succession. I ended up canceling the first one but the second book deal helped me get my work out. In fact, one of my books under that deal was released in mass market paperback this week. So I know what a nice thing a book deal can be.

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